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Pakistani court suspends sentence for ex-PM Khan and wife in a graft case but couple won't be freed

This is a locator map for Pakistan with its capital, Islamabad, and the Kashmir region. (AP Photo)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani appeals court on Monday suspended a 14-year prison sentence for former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife in a corruption case, but the couple won't be released because they are already serving prison terms in other cases, officials said.

However, the court order was a legal victory for Khan, who was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote in April 2022. Khan now has more than 170 legal cases hanging over him.

The Islamabad High Court suspended the sentence for Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, after hearing an appeal from their lawyer, according to Zulfiqar Bukhari, the spokesperson for Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

The court ordered the release of the couple on bail but under the country's laws Khan and his wife won't be freed because Bibi is serving a prison term in another case and Khan has been convicted and sentenced in multiple cases.

The latest development came about two months after Khan and his wife were found guilty of retaining and selling state gifts in violation of government rules when he was in power.

The couple's lawyer, Ali Zafar, said during Monday's court hearing that Khan and his wife did not get the right of a fair trial. He claimed that Khan was being politically victimized and the couple was not involved in any wrongdoing.

The court will resume hearing the case later this month.

Khan remains popular in the country despite his conviction in multiple cases.

Khan's PTI party made a strong showing in the Feb. 8 parliamentary elections but did not win a majority of the seats in the National Assembly, or lower house of the parliament, though PTI says the vote was rigged.